This talk is part of the Centering the Global Periphery research initiative.
Environmental sustainability initiatives implemented across Europe have reproduced and generated new practices of racialization. Although framed as progressive in the name of “greening” Europe, these initiatives often rely on unrecognized and racialized labor. In Bulgaria, where waste labor is performed predominantly by Romani women, waste management is critical to meeting European Union environmental targets. This talk offers a historical and ethnographic account of recycling in Sofia, Bulgaria to explore how people engage with European sustainability regimes as well as the broader political landscapes of which they are a part. Sustainability in an expanding European Union, I argue, ends up sustaining an environment structured on white supremacy and racial capitalism.
Elana Resnick is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she also leads the Infrastructural Inequalities Research Group. She writes about waste, race, environmentalism, labor, and humor. Her work has been published in American Anthropologist, Collaborative Anthropologies, Journal of Contemporary Archaeology, Anthropology of East Europe Review, Anthropological Journal of European Cultures and is forthcoming in Public Culture. Her research has been funded by the School for Advanced Research, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the Council for European Studies, the Fulbright-Hays Program, and the Wilson Center.